The Middle East is a volatile, constantly shifting region. Israel shares borders with Syria, Gaza, Judea and Samaria, Lebanon, and the Sinai; all of these operational sectors present their own challenges. This update can get you up to speed on the situations, threats, and changes on our borders.
Because of the war in Syria, our border is, in a word, unpredictable. In the Syrian Golan, Assad forces, rebels, Hezbollah, and Islamic State factions violently clash on a daily basis. Sometimes the violence spills over the border, threatening the Golan Heights. The IDF is prepared for violence to turn towards us, as it did on November 28, when an ISIS cell attacked Israeli soldiers in the Golan Heights. We maintain a policy of non-involvement in the fighting in Syria, but when our soldiers and civilians are threatened, we will respond accordingly.
The IDF also provides humanitarian medical aid to Syrians on the border, and treats them in Israeli hospital. At a recent conference, the IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, said, “$6.7 million from the IDF budget is going to medical assistance for wounded Syrians.” In total, almost 3,000 of them have been hospitalized in Safed and Nahariya.
Update: In response to projectile that hit Israel earlier today, IDF targeted artillery position of Syrian Regime in Syrian Golan Heights.
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) November 9, 2016
Overnight, the IAF successfully targeted an ISIS base of operations in the Syrian Golan located in an abandoned UN compound.
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) November 28, 2016
Hamas has been building – not schools, hospitals, and homes – but their cross-border tunnel network. They’ve been taking advantage of the relative calm to keep expanding their underground terror infrastructure. Two cross-border tunnels have been found and destroyed by IDF forces in 2016. Over the past year, international aid to Gaza has increased significantly – but that doesn’t mean that Gazan citizens are benefiting from it. Twice in 2016, Hamas has been caught using international aid funds and donations meant for improving the quality of life of Gaza’s civilians and diverting them to terror.
Hamas and other terror organizations operating in the Gaza strip, including Islamic State-affiliated groups, have fired 16 rockets into Israel this year, terrorizing the civilians of the Gaza border communities. As the the ruling entity of Gaza, we hold Hamas responsible for the attacks against Israel that originate there. Even so, the IDF, through the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit, continues facilitating the transfer of humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. Over 100 tons of medical supplies are transferred into Gaza each week, and tens of tons of goods enter Gaza via Israel each day.
This morning, a rocket was fired from Gaza at Israel & did not hit Israeli territory. In response, IAF struck a Hamas military post in Gaza.
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) October 24, 2016
— COGAT (@cogat_israel) January 5, 2017
Judea and Samaria
The “lone wolf” attacks of the past year pose an enormous challenge: they’re hard to predict and track. They’re spurred on by incitement, often by established terror groups like Hamas and ISIS, religious occasions, social media, and inspiration from past attacks can cause upticks.
From October 2015 through the end of 2016, Palestinians from Judea and Samaria have carried out 278 shooting, stabbing, car ramming, and bombing attacks against Israelis. Identifying hotbeds of terror and keeping illegal weapons out of the hands of potential terrorists can help prevent these attacks. Israeli forces have seized 445 weapons and 43 weapons manufacturing machines in 2016.
The number of terror attacks carried out in and originating from Judea and Samaria has fallen in the past few months. This doesn’t mean that the threat is gone, but that methods to combat them are working. We’re continuing our Intelligence efforts and crackdowns on illegal weapons and weapon-making workshops. Getting illegal weapons off the streets of Judea and Samaria means that they can’t be used against Israelis in attacks, leading to a visible decrease in terror.
Last night, security forces found weapons parts hidden among children’s toys in Nablus. pic.twitter.com/VoHq3JmW4j
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) December 28, 2016
Confirmed: 3 IDF cadets & an officer were killed in Jerusalem truck attack earlier today. 17 other IDF officers & cadets were injured. pic.twitter.com/WtX0Ef8wt9
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) January 8, 2017
Our border with Lebanon may seem quiet, but Hezbollah, the Shiite terror group that controls Lebanon’s south, is continuing to prepare for attacks against Israel. Unlike other terror groups, Hezbollah’s size and arsenal rivals that of a conventional army. Their 45,000 soldiers and over 100,000 missiles are embedded in civilian population centers. They regularly violate Resolution 1701, which bars them from possessing arms and from acting as an armed organization separate from the Lebanese Armed Forces.
Hassan Nasrallah, the group’s leader, regularly speaks of taking over villages in Israel’s north: “When the resistance [Hezbollah] leadership… asks [its fighters]… to enter into Galilee, that means the resistance must be ready to enter into Galilee and to go even beyond the Galilee.”
We’re not interested in an escalation, and Hezbollah is heavily involved in the fighting in Syria. This doesn’t mean that the uneasy quiet in the north is guaranteed to continue – the Second Lebanon War broke out during a similarly deceptive lull. And because of Hezbollah’s stockpiling and clear disregard for human life, the next war will be even more deadly.
Update: Shots fired from passing vehicle in Lebanon at IDF forces in routine activity. Forces responded w/ fire. Injured soldier evacuated.
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) October 26, 2016
The Islamic State’s Sinai branch (Wilayat Sinai) threatens us regularly through their publications. They clash violently with Egyptian forces, and have carried out attacks against Israel in the past. In the past five years, they’ve fired rockets into southern Israel, targeted Israeli civilians, and carried out attacks against Israeli forces.
With a knowledge of this deadly threat, the IDF is always training for a potential cross-border attack by the Islamic State. Units like the Caracal Battalion are permanently stationed on the border, and reserve units like Lotar Eilat counter-terror unit are ready at a moment’s notice to defend the local civilian populations.
We know that ISIS in the Sinai is receiving training, aid, arms, and medical care from Hamas in Gaza, and that tension on the Gaza border strengthens this partnership.
A dangerous terror alliance: The 600-1,000 ISIS fighters in the Sinai are partnering with Hamas pic.twitter.com/NjFzoPOe9K
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) April 26, 2016